YOGA4B is our 501(c) nonprofit organization that serves in the interest of the public, based in Boca Raton FL and created in 2013, 5 years since Pamela Leal’s daughter - Bailey - took her own life. At the time, she was a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She was smart, popular, athletic, an active peer counselor and a leadership student. The amount of media coverage on the event was massive and the horrific incidence hit our community hard.
“She knew what to do,” Leal says in regards to her daughter’s ability to seek help. “She saw lectures. She got all the education. She didn’t do any of it. When a child wants to kill themselves… they will.”
Leal has discovered a successful approach to helping teens deal with the stressful situations that adolescence often brings. Her choice of guidance is yoga. She uses her daughter’s story to spread awareness and encourage positive healing practices. “Bailey’s life was my message, her death is my work,” Leal says.
"Since the death of my daughter, a Yogathon has been set into action every year honoring Bailey through Yoga. These events have happened every year for 5 years since Bailey died."
Raising thousands of dollars for FISP, FAULK Center For Counseling and Henderson Behavioral in Ft. Lauderdale.
"In addition, my path, my presence and ability to move forward in a positive way, has influenced many. I credit this to the daily practice of Yoga. I fought to get Yoga added to the curriculum at Douglas and was so happy when my fellow Yoga teacher and English teacher was hired. The program at Douglas has grown into my dream. The main idea behind Yoga4B was to get at least a 20 minute program introduced into every public school K-18 in a freestanding facility dedicated to meditation, breathing, gentle Yoga Stretches, and most important, dialogue amongst peers aided by a facilitator."
YOGA4B promotes knowledge of the therapeutic benefits of yoga through teaching and training yoga to our community including our schools. We are committed to helping students in a new era of mindfulness and peace, we strive to encourage children, adolescents and teachers in general to embrace the practice of yoga as a basis for individual mental health and a revitalized society. We empower students and educators to create positive, peaceful, productive classrooms that support exceptional learning and a lifetime of health and wellness.. We even further our mission through the expansion and development of programming, trainings, fundraisers, outreach initiatives in our community.
On a morning when the stress level was high as Marjory Stoneman Douglas students returned to class, physical education teacher Amy Kenny touted the healing benefits of yoga to students.
“The first day back was really tough to deal with … and once I got with my kids, my students, everything sort of lifted and lightened,” Kenny said. “All they wanted me to do was just love on them and hug them, and we did some yoga and read a story about peace.”
“Life actually seemed normal for the first time in about two and a half weeks,” said Kenny, who has been teaching yoga at Douglas for two years. She teaches approximately 300 students daily, from freshmen to seniors.
She said many of her students texted her in the hours after the shooting and the days that followed, telling her that they relied on the lessons learned during yoga class to remain calm during the chaos that gripped their school on Valentine’s Day.
On Wednesday afternoon, she held a yoga class at Pines Trail Park, where there is a large memorial dedicated to the 17 students and staff killed in the shooting. Sixteen people were wounded.
Several Douglas students participated in the class, each one teaming up with a special needs student as part of the Parkland Buddy Sports program.
Andriano Broccoli, a 15-year-old sophomore, was inside the freshman building during the shooting, on the third floor. He was huddled in a classroom with other students and could hear the shooting.
“I was just thinking to stay alive … I was trying to keep my peers calm,” he said. He said he relied on the lessons he learned in Kenny’s class to calm down.
“Yoga relaxes me, like the breathing exercises, the energy flowing through you, it is helping me through,” he said.